The Nutcracker Suite

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday 2 March 2012 18:03

I had a great day today visiting a gentleman in West Sussex who showed me this amazing specimen of a Nutcracker. This specimen was shot back in 1906 near Chilgrove, back in the days when birdwatchers were a little more trigger happy and 'bagging' a bird meant literally that. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not celebrating this behaviour in anyway but the retention of the specimen after all these years I do support. I'm just grateful that we have digital cameras these days! I was also intrigued with what else was inside the case, I spotted some Big Shaggy-moss and Common Bent in there, looking just like they had been picked last summer, not 106 years ago.

The taxidermist was a W. Swaysland of 47 Queens Road, Brighton. It seems that this person was responsible for much of the taxidermy at the Booth Museum (also in Brighton for those that don't know). Incidentally, I have always felt a connection with Nutcrackers after seeing one in my home county of Staffordshire 21 years ago in 1991, I would have been 12 or 13.

Living birds today included a singing Firecrest, fly over Hawfinch, singing Crossbills and Marsh Tits and dozens of Redpolls.

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